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The Bomod-ok Falls – or simply the Big Falls — is one of Sagada’s most visited and sought-after attractions. Despite being one of the few sites of interest that is more than a few minutes’ hike from the town center, countless visitors still brave the long trek to admire the 200-feet tall column of water as it splashes down on the cold pools below.
To get to the Big Falls, one must hire a guide from the Tourism Desk at the Town Hall care of the Sagada Environmental Guides Association (SEGA) or the office of the newly-established Sagada Genuine Guides Association (SAGGAS). For the former, the charge for a group of 10 people or less is a pretty affordable rate of 600 pesos (~15 USD). Use this to your advantage! Look for other small groups who would be willing to split the fee with you. Who knows, you might even make friends in the process.
The trail to the Big Falls would take you on a long and exhausting trek along the sides of countless rice terraces! You literally walk between rice paddies and scale the elevated portions to the lower levels through the use of the sturdy stone walls of the terraces. The ingenuity of these people would totally impress you. The rocks were once in the river bed but thanks to the great minds and muscles of the ancestors of the present day Sagadans, this great construction project is in existence for all of us to see and appreciate.
You can walk from the town proper to the falls, but that would take roughly three to four hours of trekking. The descent to the falls itself is quite challenging especially for those people who are not used to much exercise. To make it easier on the legs and ankles, you may rent a jeep or van for 600 pesos (~ 15 USD) more to have it take you to the last town navigable by road. Since this will be quite a physical activity make sure that you have enough water with you. You will not see a lot of stores along the way. It will also be more advantageous if you start your trip in the early morning (say 6-7 AM) when the sun is still not beating hard on you. Wear comfortable and cool clothing and make sure to slap on some sunblock. If you intend to go swimming, bring a change of clothes. Be wary of the fact that there are no man-made structures near the falls so there are no such things as dressing rooms or shower areas.
The barrangays (townships under a town) of Aguid and Banga-an are the entry points to the Big Falls. The Banga-an route is much easier because most of the trail is comprised of concrete walkways along the terraces. Though the steps are steep, it’s still much manageable compared to what awaits you in Aguid.
On the former, you will be walking along the caked soil of the terraces borders. You better have good balance because one false move could send you dropping at least 8 feet to the level below. If you accidentally step on a paddy, you’ll probably sink to your knees. How do I know? Well, experience is the best teacher! Hehe
Here’s our friend from Korea who took a really messy spill. :p
The two paths from Aguid and Banga-an meet a few hundred meters from the falls. The trail now becomes a delicately matted and sculpted path of rocks in between a very deep ravine and a slow moving stream. If you’re not sure of your ability to balance, don’t try to impress anyone. Walk along the stream like I did! If you are to fall though, there are plenty of foliage and plants to grab on to just in case. But then again, we wouldn’t want to take that chance, right?
The trail then changes to a maze-like combination of large rocks partially submerged in water. Beware of these rocks. They are very slippery and there is a big chance of getting caught off guard. Be alert at all times!
Once you reach the pool, you’ll realize that the water is very cold. If you’re not a strong swimmer, don’t attempt to even go to the deeper parts. The cold could tire you easily and all the shivering could make it hard for you to make efficient strokes across the water.
Make sure that you have enough energy for the return trip – don’t forget that it’s a steep ascent.
Have fun and stay safe!
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